5.23.2006

Here are two Indie TicketStubs for your perusal:

* The Notorious Bettie Page - Our choice for Ladies Night was richly rewarded but not without controversy. Gretchen Mol plays the pinup queen as a bright but enigmatically naive vixen, sort of like a brainy Marilyn Monroe character brought to life. Made by three powerhouses of lesbian/feminist Hollywood (Mary Harron, Guinivere Turner, and Christine Vachon), the film has some strong political undercurrents despite its glossy looks -- it was irritatingly similar, in fact, to Good Night And Good Luck, down to the silvery B&W lighting and David Strathairn. Bettie's life is presented anecdotally, from a Nashville church service to the hard luck life of a struggling starlet in NYC. She falls into being photographed in progressively more daring (or nonexistent) clothes with a no-nonsense, "Heck, why not?" laugh in the face of convention, and only begins to see the raw urges that drive the photo shoots for what they are after she's confronted by creepy fanboys and the US Senate. I liked the fact that it didn't try to be comprehensive or omniscient (a la Ray), but others thought it was too arty and distorted for a biopic (the fact that a few scenes are in glorious Technicolor, for whatever reason, didn't help). Extra points for Lily Taylor as the S&M stage mother Paula Klaw. (B)

* Primer - Nat got this from Netflix and we both liked it, though for very different reasons. It's a $7,000 debut film, written directed and starred in by a former engineer, shot on digital video. And it's about time travel. The twisty, overlapping dialogue swirls around a simple premise -- two guys inadvertently build a time machine in their spare time, and open a Pandora's box of philosophical dilemmas about free will, causality, mortality, and other sunny topics. Nat loves time travel stories for their surprising twists (and this film has them) and brain-prodding paradoxes; I get fed up because they generally avoid the sticky time-space problems that will inevitably result, and in this case those problems are the heart of the story. It looks like a screen test shot on the set of Office Space, and the "acting" is beside the point, but its dark, brainy glow will stick with you. (A)

1 comment:

Nathaniel said...

I thought it was a very successful time travel movie. I thought the writer/director did a pretty good job crafting the screenplay and the production itself, working within the limitations of a nonexistent budget.